A Unified Command is set to oversee the construction of an environmental barrier around the Golden Ray wreck as salvage plans are finalized.
The Golden Ray vehicle carrier remains overturned in St. Simons Sound nearly four months after it capsized as it was departing the Port of Brunswick in the U.S. state of Georgia.
According to the latest update, the vessel’s owner and the Unified Command are working closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to obtain the required permits to begin construction of an “environmental protection barrier” (ECB) around the vessel. The Unified Command is expected to release details about EPB construction plans and the wreck removal once required permits are issued.
The MV Golden Ray was carrying about 4,200 vehicles when it lost stability and grounded in St. Simons Bay as it departed the Port of Brunswick on September 8, 2019. Twenty-three crew members and one pilot were evacuated safely.
Due to the environmental threat, the salvage will consist of removing all cargo and components from the vessel and cutting it up in place in St. Simons Sound.
Lightering of the vessel was completed in December with crew removing some 320,000 gallons of oil and water from the vessel.
Weather permitting, contractors continue to work daily on preparing the Golden Ray for removal. Most recently, crews removed the side ramp and have been working on the stern ramp which will improve safety conditions and expedite operations to cut the vessel into sections for removal.
“While crews are actively engaged in ramp removal from the wreck itself, we are working back on shore with environmental, engineering and other experts to finalize plans for the EPB that will mitigate threats to the marine ecosystem when the Golden Ray is eventually cut into large sections and removed by barge,” said Kevin Perry of Gallagher Marine Systems, incident commander for the responsible party. “We are doing everything we can to get this wreck removal right. This includes considering every last detail of the EPB including how its construction will impact marine life and what level of noise the citizens of St. Simons Island can expect while it is being built.”
The Unified Command for the St. Simons Sound Incident Response is comprised of the Coast Guard as the federal on scene coordinator, the Georgia Department of Natural Resource (DNR) as the state on scene coordinator, and Gallagher Marine Services as the incident commander for the responsible party.
“While the UC is made up of representatives from three organizations, we must consider input from multiple experts and stakeholders when moving forward with EPB and removal plans,” said John Maddox, Georgia Dept. of Natural Resource state on scene coordinator. “This is a complicated project with lots of moving parts. The UC is pleased that this phase of the planning process is almost complete and appreciates the patience of local residents and visitors of St. Simons as we get closer to removing the Golden Ray.”